This program introduces some of the earliest and rarest recordings of Armenian folk music, soulful interpretations by performers who recorded during the 78 rpm era. Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935) was the first to document such works by recording the oral tradition of Armenian music. By 1912, he had recorded his own arrangements of these Armenian folk songs, (in the same way Bartok did for Hungarian music), with the legendary "Caruso of the Armenians," Armenak Shahmuradian. The latter traveled around the world from India to Fresno, California, performing this music, and his vocal legacy is unparalleled, as witnessed by these recordings from 1912 and 1916. The range, or tessitura, of most Armenian music is relentlessly stratospheric, in spite of which, Shahmuradian's breath control, declamation and ornamentation is of the highest order of musicality. Charles Amirkhanian hosts this program which features guest producer Ohannes Salibian, a composer and Armenian music historian on the faculty of the University of Southern California. Salibian also introduces recordings of other musicians performing Komitas' arrangements for piano solo, voice, chorus and instruments. Included are recordings made in Georgia in 1945 and 1947 by the Komitas String Quartet.
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